Before I start with Saturday’s walk, I want to finish up writing about Friday. I spent Friday night at The George Inn (the “George”) in a place called Hubberholme. Huhbberholme is little more than a 12th century Norman church, a 15th-century inn, and an old bridge. The George is a great little inn run by a very affable bartender/hotel manager/owner/cook. The food is fantastic and despite how small it is, it manages to keep four fresh casks on.
The people staying at the George were mostly Dales Way walkers, which resulted in a good deal of camaraderie. I sat with an older Australian dude that I met earlier that morning in Burnsall. Towards the end of the Friday walk, we walked together. It was a fun night.
All that being said, I was beyond exhausted Friday night. I’ve been fighting a cold and not sleeping well, averaging 4-5 hours a night and missing a night of sleep altogether. I decided it was time for a sleeping pill. I woke up the next morning with 9 solid hours feeling like a champ. The cold was manageable and I was no longer tired. I hit the road with a spring in my step. Except about a third of mile out, I realized I had forgotten something at the inn and had to go back to get it. That’s +.6 miles the hardest day on the Dale’s Way.
The first third of the Saturday walk was fantastic. Flat with beautiful river views and bookended with lime rock hills. I could see the high hills of the Dales slowly melt away at as I made my way to the main watershed of England. The landscape slowly turned bleak. Trees disappeared and nice short soft grass was replaced by long wiry reed-like grass. And then it started to get muddy. Super muddy. Ankle deep muddy. So muddy that when I took a step the mud sucked my boots down as I tried to pull up for another step.
Of 19 miles I hiked on Saturday, at least 4 miles were pure mud and most of those miles were straight uphill. It was slow going. I’ve been assured that it is very unseasonably muddy due to the intense winter rain the UK received this year.
After what seemed like an eternity of mud, the trail turned out of the hills and followed a paved road, under the impressive Dent aqueduct, and into the tiny village of Cowgill. I stopped in the only pub (and inn) in Cowgill for what turned into 3 pints in about 30 minutes. From there I headed to my “self-catering” cottage, which was a cool house sized cottage converted from an old school house.
On my way, I ran into a couple of English walkers, who, just like every single person I’ve talked to, wanted to know how we could have let Trump get so far. More often than not, these conversations turn into Brexit conversations. In the span of a not much more than a single breath, I listened to an English man mock Trump and launch into a diatribe about how England is for the English and how those “damn Muslims” need to get out. I suggested they build a wall.
I found my cottage and freshened up just in time for the owner to ride in on her bike. I mentioned that I wanted to find some way to get to Dent for dinner. Dent is almost 4 miles away, so after 19, another 8 walking was absolutely out of the question. There’s no taxi service in the area, not to mention cell signal or internet. I asked to borrow her lady bike, complete with giant basket, and she agreed.
So within minutes I was speeding down towards Dent. Tall man on a little ladies bike. I passed some lycra enthusiasts. They were not impressed. Also ran into a herd of dairy cows blocking the road. It was exhilarating to go fast after a slow day of walking.
I made my way to the George and Dragon, had a few of Dent Brewing’s offerings, and had some great conversations with a few locals. I sat down to dinner with some Londoners walking the Dales Way. We talked Trump, Brexit, and the virtues of the English walking tour. Another beer and it was time to head back to the cottage, except this time in the pitch black dark, uphill, and with a few more pints in my system. Walked in, went to bed.
Total Miles Walked: 19. Miles Biked: 8.